The dominant meme, of course, is that Leave voters have made a terrible mistake and will regret their decision. They’re a bit dim, turkeys who voted for Christmas, sadly influenced by xenophobes, racists and knaves, and ultimately shouldn't have been entrusted with such a momentous decision. That I'm educated1, in an interracial marriage, and barely paid attention to Farage and Johnson's fluffy promises makes me an outlier, I guess. This wasn't about personalities.
Yes, there was shock that Brexiters won the day. That was because, aside from the status quo always being the house favourite,2 so many of us who expressed our desire to make our way to the exit genuinely thought Remain would win. To put it in an American context (I'm also a US citizen), it's a little like being told Bernie didn't have a chance, voting for him despite the odds because that's what you thought was the best way forward, then waking up to find that he had, indeed, pulled it off. Think of the consternation that would cause in some circles. My guess is that most of us – UKIP and Oliver Healey perhaps excluded – would have calmly accepted a Remain vote because most of us expected that in the first place (just as I have always expected Hillary to win). So yay! for voting what you believe in: sometimes it works.
Note that there was a very high turnout: surely a cause for celebration in itself. Telling 17+ million people they're idiots is not really the best way to encourage continued democratic participation.
Stories of Bregret in an angsty aftermath fit the media's chosen narrative, but we could pick cherries all day long. Reporters even managed to find adults who claim to have wanted to Remain but ticked the Leave box, seemingly for the pure hell of it, and now feel cheated of their vote. Thanks for taking one for the team, guys.
We had the best of reasons, we had the worst of reasons. It was, in other words, like any other day at the polls.
Take immigration. History shows that this is not a nation opposed to immigrants. Clearly a lot of people want better control over the numbers. If the US itself wants to try open borders, it’s free to give it a go. In theory I would love a world without imaginary lines. Theory, met the reality of infrastructure that just can't keep up.
“This was a cry of despair from the victims of modern capitalism” according to a diary that was published as I was fiddling with this one. I don’t disagree, though it was, to me, largely a referendum on freedom itself. Everything flows from that, for better or for worse – and I'm aware of the irony of a subject of QEII3 getting misty eyed about freedom, not to mention of the practical realities of the matrix of economic serfdom in which most will continue to live. Would US citizens care to remove control of some of their most important decisions from D.C. and place it in the hands of largely unaccountable bureaucrats in, say, Toronto? (Actually, don’t answer that.) To continue however imperfectly with another analogy, imagine if America's founders had put the revolution on indefinite hold for fear of "market turmoil". We wouldn't have had all those catchy Schoolhouse Rock videos, for a start.4
It should go without saying that I don’t know what the future holds. Nor do The Experts™, many of whom do a jolly good business despite abysmal records. Disentangling ourselves from Brussels is a monstrously complicated process with plenty of potential pitfalls. It isn't even a sure thing that the will of the majority of voters will be respected in the end. There are enough people making predictions that someone is bound to get it kinda sorta right, so pick your prognosticator and get back to me in a couple of years.
Once upon a time a man said Yes We Can, and I voted for him. As disappointing as he turned out to be in certain respects, I don’t regret giving him a chance. Please give us one.
1 To college dropout level
2 Looks like I’m going with the British spelling
3 The second Queen Elizabeth, not the big boat
4 I don’t appear to be educated enough to embed this video
5 Fixed, cheers